Relaxation exercises are among the most effective natural remedies for high blood pressure. Relaxation exercises tap into your body’s own regulation systems to rest your fight-or-flight stress reaction back to the natural, default, rest-and-digest response. This lowers your heart rate and blood pressure, promotes relaxation and dilation of blood vessels, and reduces secretion of stress hormones such as adrenaline (epinephrine), noradrenaline (norepinephrine) and cortisol.
If you have high blood pressure, you might find it interesting to measure your blood pressure before and after doing each of the following relaxation exercises.
Relaxation exercise for high blood pressure: 1
This is my favourite relaxation exercise, as it can be performed any time, any place, anywhere to help you relax without anyone noticing.
It’s called the Inner Smile and was used by the ancient Chinese to strengthen their constitutional energy, or Jing Qi, which they believed is seated just beneath the navel in an area known as the tan tien.
- Sit or stand comfortably, with your back straight and your arms relaxed at your side.
- Imagine something, or someone, that makes you smile.
- The smile does not have to be visible to anyone else, but let it shine out of your eyes.
- Let the smile travel inwards to spread all over your body, before concentrating around your navel.
As the smile radiates within, notice how relaxed and calm you feel.
You may also notice a warmth or vibration in the pit of your stomach.
Relaxation exercise for high blood pressure: 2
This relaxation exercise is a visualisation technique to lower a high blood pressure.
- Sit somewhere quiet with your eyes closed. Imagine your body as a pulsing, red shape.
- Above you is a light bulb which, when switched on, gives out a healing indigo light.
- Switch on the light so its indigo waves radiate down onto your body.
- Feel the indigo light bathing your whole body and entering your cells.
- Bask in the cool, restful glow and imagine it bringing your blood pressure down.
Relax in the indigo light for 15 minutes, or until you feel ready to bring the exercise to a close. You can use a colour bulb to make this exercise even more relaxing.
Relaxation exercise for high blood pressure: 3
This relaxation technique uses acupressure to help you feel relaxed.
First, identify the acupressure point between your eyebrows, in the middle of your forehead, which is known as the Third Eye Point. This acupressure point is situated directly between your eyebrows in the indentation where the bridge of your nose meets your forehead.
- Massage this third eye point with your dominant middle finger (right for most people, left for left-handers) using firm pressure.
- Make small rotating movements over the point, both clockwise and anticlockwise, which is believed to reduce an excess of stagnant Qi energy.
- Manipulate this point for three minutes to help clear your mind, calm your body and lower your blood pressure.
This exercise is good for treating a stress-related tension headache, too.
Relaxation exercise for high blood pressure: 4
The next relaxation exercise is a progressive, whole body relaxation technique that combats tension in all the major muscle groups.
- Close the curtains/blinds and, if you like, light some aromatherapy candles and play relaxing classical music.
- Lie down comfortably on a mat or bed, in the Savasana pose, close your eyes and breathe slowly and deeply.
- Begin by clenching the muscles in your toes. Hold for a count of ten, then relax them and feel the tension release.
- Next, clench the muscles in your feet. Hold for a count of ten then concentrate on relaxing both your toes and your feet.
- Move slowly up your body through your legs, buttocks, abdomen, back, shoulders, arms, hands, fingers, neck and head, clenching then relaxing each group of muscles.
During the relaxation phase, keep checking back on the parts of your body previously clenched to ensure tension has not crept back into them.
Once your whole body is relaxed, lie quietly for 10 minutes, with your mind empty of thoughts.
Relaxation exercise for high blood pressure: 5
This relaxation technique is similar to relaxation exercise 4, but is more advanced as it promotes a deeper level of muscle awareness and relaxation.
Follow the instructions for Relaxation Exercise 4, above, but only minimally tighten each group of muscles, so you just feel tension entering the muscles, instead of clenching them fully.
Continue to breathe slowly and deeply throughout.
During this exercise, focus on gaining awareness of how the muscles with a slight tension in them feel different from your other muscles that are fully relaxed.
After you have minimally tensed then relaxed each group of muscles separately, finish by minimally tensing every muscle in your body together, then let go.
You will feel a wave of heaviness then calmness flood through your body.
Relax like this for 15 minutes.
Relaxation exercise for high blood pressure: 6
The final relaxation exercise for high blood pressure is a visualisation.
- Sit down comfortably in a quiet room with the curtains drawn.
- Imagine looking through a window into a lush, tranquil garden with foliage in restful shades of green, yellow, blue and white.
- Smell the tropical flowers which scent the air with vanilla, jasmine and rose.
- Feel the golden sunlight filtering down, dappling you in restful cool shade while the leaves of exotic palms and giant ferns steam gently in the pleasant warmth.
- Use your senses to explore the colours, sounds and smells of this secret world as you drift deeper and deeper into a relaxed, meditative state.
When it is time to bring your inner journey to an end, imagine yourself walking in through your front door and closing it behind you, before opening your eyes, stretching your limbs and rejoining the present.
You can use visualisations like this to explore your body and imagine your blood pressure and pulse rate coming down, too.
If your blood pressure is raised, self-monitoring can help you maintain good control.
Click here for advice on choosing a blood pressure monitor to use at home.